Apartheid history shaped South Africa’s genocide case against Israel
South Africa recently took legal action against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the occupying regime of genocide and war crimes against Palestinians in Gaza.
South Africa’s lawsuit seeking a halt to the Israeli assault on Gaza comes after years of deteriorating relations rooted in South Africa’s decades-long support for the Palestinian cause and the legacy of Israel’s close military alliance with the apartheid regime during some of the most oppressive years of white rule.
The Israeli regime waged the war on Gaza on October 7 after Hamas carried out the surprise Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the occupying entity in response to the Israeli regime’s atrocities against Palestinians.
The relentless military campaign has killed more than 23,084 people, most of them children and women. At least 58,926 Palestinians have also been wounded.
Jewish organisations in South Africa have accused the ruling African National Congress (ANC) of siding with Iran and antisemitism with its hostility towards Israel.
South Africa’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, responded to the ICJ filing by accusing the ANC government of acting “as Iran’s ally and proxy” and of supporting “Iranian proxy Hamas”.
South Africa’s Jewish Board of Deputies also accused South Africa’s government of using international courts for political purposes.
However, critics of the country’s Jewish organizations have responded by accusing them of acting as a proxy for Israel. Andrew Feinstein, a Jewish former ANC member of parliament, said the criticisms will have little traction inside the country.
“The chief rabbi and the Jewish Board of Deputies have never criticised anything Israel has done for as long as I can remember. It’s worth reminding oneself that the organised Jewish community in South Africa found it extraordinarily difficult to criticise apartheid until the mid-1980s. So we’re not talking about people speaking from a position of moral integrity here,” he said.
Feinstein noted that the Jewish Board of Deputies collaborated with the white apartheid regime and chose instead to honour figures such as Percy Yutar, the prosecutor who sent Nelson Mandela to prison.
Feinstein said there is a growing view around the world that Israel was practising its own brand of apartheid in the Palestinian occupied territories.
“There are certain things that run incredibly deep in the ANC and its support for the Palestinian people is one of them. There’s an affinity for the Palestinian struggle which is seen as very close to the South African struggle,” said Feinstein.
Source: The Guardian